A patient with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) will need a multidisciplinary approach to their medical management. Babies and children with type 1 and type 2 SMA may need help with breathing. The amount of help they need will depend on the severity of their condition. Some may only need assisted ventilation during the night or if they become ill, others may need it 24 hours a day.
According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, feeding is another area that needs to be carefully managed as the muscles in the throat are often too weak for patients to be able to swallow sufficiently. Suction machines may be required to help clear excess saliva and infants may need feeding tubes. Nutritional plans for older children and adults with SMA will ensure they are getting all their dietary needs.
As the child develops and the disease progresses, speech and language may become an area that needs assistance. Speech therapists can help children better communicate as well as come up with some exercises that can help strengthen the mouth and throat muscles.
Children with type 2 and 3 SMA may begin to develop curvature of the spine, particularly if they need a wheelchair. Back braces and surgical procedures can help in this area, along with physical therapy.
Occupational therapy is extremely helpful for children and adults with SMA as it helps them manage their condition on a day-to-day basis and keep some of their independence.
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